We Can Offer Her Honorary Membership

I don’t follow celebrity gossip, mostly because I’ve never managed to work up interest in the desperate actions of shallow people who make a thousand times more money than I do. My antipathy is also because celebrities so rarely say anything that truly shocks me.

Therefore, it was with great surprise that I ran into this recent quote from singer/songwriter Alicia Keys:

“I’m not Latina, even though I would love to be and many people do think I am.”

She has officially shocked me. The reason is because I’ve never heard of a white or black person who actually wanted to be Hispanic.

Minorities who want to be white are commonplace. The perception that life is easier for members of the majority culture is well-ingrained.

And if there is a second most-coveted ethnicity, we can all agree that it is black. This desire has lead to a surplus of white rappers and a cavalcade of unintentionally hilarious wannabes slouching their way down the street.

Therefore, a beautiful and successful non-Hispanic woman yearning to be a Latina is not something I would have predicted. Such proclamations have the dangerous potential to make us hip.

Because Ms. Keys is a mixture of black and white, people are apparently confused about her race. So nobody will correct her if she claims Hispanic blood. I encourage her to follow her heart on this one.

Let her proclaim an affinity for salsa and a tendency to hug total strangers. Allow her to speak rapidly and refer to distant relations as cousins. And nudge her into swaying her hips to anything remotely rhythmic and becoming subsumed with Catholic guilt.

In this way, she can inch toward achieving that Latina status she so admires.


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May 2008
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